When it comes to telling the tale of a flying baby elephant with huge ears, a woman living out her lifelong fantasy of living with seven dwarfs, a little boy who gets wood when he tells lies, or a very musical high school, Disney does the job second to none. When it comes to telling the story about a high school senior going on a road trip with her father in search of a college, Disney has more than a little to work on.
When I saw the cover art for College Road Trip I figured it was just Disney's attempt to sucker Martin Lawrence into a paycheck and give Raven-Symone a vehicle of her own, like they do with all of their Disney Channel stars. Then I looked over to the left and saw Donny Osmond standing next to a stack of books that looks like they're being humped by a pig. Now, I like to give every movie a chance, but it's kind of hard to take any movie seriously, let alone one where a high school senior tries to choose a college, when there is book-humping pig, an Osmond, and Martin Lawrence with one of those foam fingers on his hand. After sitting through this road trip, I can tell you that there will be at least one place you'll love Mr. Lawrence to shove that foam finger.
Raven-Symone plays Melanie Porter, a high school senior who wants to go to Georgetown to study law. Her father, James Porter (Lawrence) is the local police chief who is looking to keep his daughter as close to home as possible so he can keep an eye on her. Of course, this father-daughter disagreement leads to a father-daughter road trip in search of the perfect school for Melanie (even though they only look at two or three schools), and your regular wholesome Disney hijinx. What is the typical wholesome hijinx that takes places while on a Disney College Road Trip? Well, since Raven can sing, you can assume she'll break out in song at least once while on a bus with about 40 Japanese tourists who enjoy karaoke. You can also expect the youngest member of the Porter family, Trey (Eshaya Draper), to sneak into his dad's police truck with his pet pig so he and his pet pig can later ruin a wedding and make everyone watching wish the road trip will later include a Hawaiian pig roast.
Oh, you won't be able to forget James raiding a sorority house in Pittsburgh when he believes his daughter is staying with a man (in a sorority house), the talking GPS system, or the father-daughter skydiving effort to get to a meeting at Georgetown University (which is weird considering if there were unknown skydivers jumping out of a plane over Washington, DC, where the school is located, they may be shot down with national security being the way it is). It's not really important how Osmond, who plays Doug Greenhut, becomes a part of the trip because every time he brings his Brady Bunch-like act to the screen, singing his songs about sunshine and rainbows, you'll wish James Porter takes the law into his own hands and shoots the moron - and his daughter, Wendy (Molly Ephraim).
Since we're talking about a "college" movie, let's see how you do on a multiple choice test. It's a one question exam. Here's the question: Which of the following closely resembles a reason you, or a friend, wants to rent College Road Trip? Here are your multiple choice answers:
A) You are a fan of the Osmonds;
B) You have never been on a college road trip (or to college) and you want to live vicariously through Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symone;
C) You are a student at the same acting school that taught Lawrence, Raven and Osmond the art of overacting;
D) You are a complete pothead and think this is the prequel to Road Trip.
E) You have spent the last six months in a meth lab downloading pictures of Miley Cyrus and decide it's time to find a new Disney character to obsess over;
F) You've been deemed mentally challenged and there is no cure.
While any of those answers are either funny or true, the truth is, the only way you will rent this movie is if you're a parent looking to keep your young children occupied for about 90 minutes, you enjoy horrible movies that are neither funny or entertaining, or you have the hots for Raven.
Symone is a talented young woman who deserves a better feature film than this drool. While her actions are over-the-top at times, as is her delivery of some lines, she has talent and its being wasted. Lawrence can be funny when given the right role, but he's an incredibly annoying in just about every scene. We get it, he doesn't want to see his little girl grow up until he gets to see what she is truly capable of out in the world. It's a great moral, but if this is the type of movie Lawrence is going to make from here on out, he might as well put the fat suit on once again and make Big Momma's House 3. As for Osmond, well, this is about as good as it will get for him, and for that, I'm sorry.
Sure, maybe this movie aims to appeal to the younger end of the spectrum, but that doesn't mean director Roger Kumble has to dumb everything down to the point of absurdity. There are, maybe, two honest moments in the film where you see father-daughter connect and bond rather than wind up in some crazy situation no two people will ever be in. It's a predictable, dumb movie that may entertain a young child for a while, but if you're a student or parent who has been through the college search, you're going to think everything in this movie is lame and ridiculous. If you're a student who is getting ready to start the college search, after watching this, you'll be satisfied with your high school diploma and hope somewhere along the line some idiot decides to pay you more than minimum wage.
We're on the second leg of our tour and I'm afraid things are not getting much better for us. The GPS is continually telling us to turn right, but we seem to be going in circles. We don't have a map because we were depending on the GPS working. We're also running out of gas, food and air freshener to help us get some relief from the person in the back seat with the foul-smelling feet. So, I guess I'll speed things up so we can get this trip over with as soon as possible.
"Raven's Video Diary" is one of those features that will actually stand out to someone watching this DVD, largely because it's not one of these studio-generated making-of features. This is Raven-Symone going around talking to other cast members in between takes. It's a shame the movie is so bad because Raven has such a great personality and it really shows in this diary when she talks to her cast members. She seems like a very genuine person, and the way she talks in to the camera, you can tell this girl is perfect for any kind of Disney film.
As we continue on our tour, we come to 10 deleted scenes. You have the option of playing them all as one consecutive movie, or playing one at a time. You also have the ability to turn on some audio commentary from the director, which is just about as thrilling as watching the movie. The problem with putting a deleted scenes feature on a disc with a movie that has a ton of scenes that need deleting as it is, is the fact that no one will want to watch them. They're either going to be worse than what is in the film, because they are, in fact, not in the film, or they'll be 100 times better, which will make you wish they were a part of the film. It's a lose-lose situation. This can also be said for the alternate scenes feature, which shows an alternate opening and ending to the film. Wahoo!
If you have time for a three minute pit stop, you might as well stop off at the "College Road Trip Gag Reel," which only proves that the pig has more talent than Donny Osmond. Sure, Raven does some cute things here and there, and they laugh at the pig farting or whatever the heck a pig does on set, but it's really not that funny. I'd point out a specific gag from the reel, but there really isn't anything worth talking about. It's kind of like visiting a college that doesn't have anything you're interested in majoring in.
If you like to live dangerously, or you're one of the few that enjoy this road trip, you can watch it two more times with audio commentary - one with Raven-Symone and Roger Kumble ('cause Martin Lawrence may be stupid for taking this role, but not stupid enough to sit through it and comment on it), or the other with the film's writers Emi Mochizuki and Carrie Evans. I just find it amazing that it took two people to write this movie. I'd be amazed if either of the writers have ever taken a road trip, or, well, graduated from college. Heck, I'd question if they've ever seen a college outside of the brochures or the online courses they took so they could claim to be doctors or something.
The last two features revolve around Raven's video for "Double Dutch Bus." One is the actual video and the other is a behind-the-scenes look at the music video. This is a popular trend on Disney DVDs, making music videos with the star of their flicks. This one, while not bad, is not exactly Top 40 stuff. It's like watching the little girl who played Olivia Kendall on The Cosby Show all grown-up and being tricked by Disney into believing they'll make her a huge star. Oh, wait, isn't that what this is?